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Adopt the Opposite   9/15/2011 12:00:00 AM

In spite of the spiritual enquiry one does, one finds oneself clouded by internal enemies in the form of anger, desire, greed etc. A long as these are lurking in the mind the benefits of spiritual knowledge cannot be seen. We have wrong notions about our own self. We do not know our own true nature as limitless.

 

Self knowledge negates the wrong notions that one has. This knowledge is not making up something new. It is being used to remove the wrong notions which are obstructing the knowledge from taking place. As long as this is not understood, we will keep waiting for realization to happen as an experience. It can never be an experience, since an experience has a beginning. Whatever has a beginning necessarily has an end. So, if one ‘attains self-hood’ on one particular day, sadly, he has to let go of it on another day. This is just not the case. Atma is free from modifications. This Atma, is one’s own self, is known by negating all the superimpositions that the individual (jIva) has falsely projected on himself. These false projections on oneself, conglobate, as it were, only leading to a cascading effect where one finds oneself stuck more into misery (samsAra) like quicksand.

 

Negative emotions build up in a person right from childhood; being neglected by parents, bullied by friends, chided by teachers etc. These create a feeling of inadequacy and confusion in the child and stay seated in the unconscious. How he behaves in the world when he grows up is guided by these deep seated feelings. How many are lucky enough to have a proper, healthy, joyous, spiritual upbringing where such negative emotions are not formed? Hence, the old pressures of negativity only complement the newer ones and the person becomes more complex, irritated and sadder than before. The negative emotions of desire (kAma), anger (krodha), greed (lobha), delusion ( moha),arrogance( mada), jealousy( mAtsarya) etc begin to master the person. These are not the only issues. There are many but scriptures enlist these as the main troublemakers in one’s life.

 

How to get rid of them? The scriptures point out that to study any issue we need to know three factors, viz. cause, nature and effects. Below, these three factors are enumerated for the 6 negative emotions.

 

 

Cause

Nature

Effect

1. Desire ( kAma)

Feeling of incompleteness

Robs the mind of peace

Makes one restless, passionate &indulgent.

2. Anger (krodha)

Unfulfilled or obstructed desire

Discrimination is lost

Loss of equanimity

3. Greed (lobha)

‘I’ness and ‘mine’-ness

Brooding over acquisition

Hoarding

4. Delusion (moha)

Wrong thinking

Inertia

Dullness, neglect of duty,sorrow

5. Arrogance (mada)

Sense of agency

High handedness

Condescending behavior

6.Jealousy (mAtsarya)

Non acceptance of others glories

Blinded to others glories

Finding faults.

 

 

Now that the cause, nature and effects have been identified, the solution seems easier to be found.

 

The scriptures are benevolent; they do not want us to waste time in doing homework. They have provided us with remedies for the same. The solution is to develop the opposite, i.e. positive quality. This is technically called pratipaksha bhAvana in vedAnta.

 

 

Negative Quality

Positive Quality -

1.  Desire( kAma)

Contentment (tRRipti)

2. Anger (krodha)

Patience (kshama)

3. Greed (lobha)

Charity & Generosity (dAnam)

4. Delusion (moha)

Right thinking (viveka)

5. Arrogance (mada)

Humility (vinaya)

6. Jealousy (mAtsarya)

Praising and being happy for others (abhinandanam)

 

 

Most of these remedies are self explanatory.

 

Desire: Once I learn to be contented with what I have, the desire to earn a better, luxurious object, or a more pleasant situation will not arise. Hence, contentment is the remedy for desire.

 

Anger: Accepting the fact that things will not always be the way one wants them to be will give the person a great deal of patience, thereby reducing anger. This is not a one-day program. It takes time. One has to understand that, what cannot be changed has to be accepted. Gladly accepting a choice-less situation reduces the friction in mind. One has to learn and practice to be alert in day to day life. This way one can, slowly and gradually, recognize one’s own thought pattern. As soon as anger is about to arise or soon after it arises, one will be able to see it objectively through gradual sAdhana.

 

Greed: Instead of hoarding for selfish purposes, one has to deliberately decide to give in charity. Nowadays, a lot of old clothes and furniture are given away in the name of charity. Yes, there will always be people taking it, as the saying goes, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. But is this charity? We are not able to get rid of things easily, so, we depend on an organization to take away what we do not need. That organization in turn gives these things to poor people, which is incidental.

 

Real charity is, when, a usable new product (not a worn out, old product), which you yourself will be able to use, or food, money etc is given to the right person, at the right time, at the right place with a compassionate bent of mind. Compassion should not be misunderstood as momentary charity born out of pity. The giving should be done with a feeling of oneness to the person receiving it. The receiver and giver are the same self; the fact that one is a ‘have-not’ is again incidental. No arrogance should be assumed while giving. It is the Lord that is making one give. Also, the motive should not be to show off to the giver or to the society. The motive should be charity itself and nothing else. One should not expect acknowledgement or appreciation. The giver must abstain from showing any kind of enticement to the receiver, to take others into one’s fold.

 

 One good checkpoint would be, to see, how many times we remember that we gave something in charity, or, to how many people we tell it to. There is an adage India; ‘Even the left hand should not know of the charity that the right hand does’. It should not be taken literally to mean that one should hide the left hand behind the back. It only means that one should not keep thinking and telling others about it. “What is mine? Everything belongs to the Lord and it just reached the right hands”; this should be the attitude. Nothing on this planet can be called as “mine”.

 

Delusion: Delusion goes only through discrimination (right thinking). Being deluded gives rise to sorrow, attachment etc. This results in misery. One becomes dilatory in attitude and inefficient in day to day transaction.  Right thinking comes by following a religious life, doing one’s ordained duties, dedicating them to the Lord and accepting the results that one gets. This is a sure shot way of developing a mind with discrimination. The seeker will gradually star questioning life and will learn to discriminate between what is real (Atma ) and unreal (anAtma ).

 

Arrogance: An arrogant person is very unlucky. I say that because, even if he comes across a spiritual master, he will not have the mental readiness to bow and surrender before him. His arrogance comes in the way. Is spiritual knowledge, which comes from the guru, possible without surrendering mentally? If one has arrogance, he cannot surrender to Ishvara, he will never accept his limitation in terms of knowledge and potency as compared to Ishvara. How can he lead a peaceful life? Hence, a person has to consciously develop humility, knowing well the ill effects of not having them.

 

Jealousy is the negative feeling we have when one is getting more happiness, fame, achievement etc than what we get. But it does not stop there. We start to see only negative things, in spite of there being positive virtues in the other; this is called jealousy. It is obvious knowledge that this is not healthy. The only way to get rid of it is, to alertly, try to be happy for the other person. Congratulating and admiring the other, truly from within and rejoicing in his happiness will reduce jealousy. Sometimes, this can also get difficult. At such times, it must be remembered that all glories that are manifest in this universe are glories of Ishvara. Anything resplendent, glorious, marvelous is but a manifestation of Ishvara. Lord kRRiShNa has very beautifully brought this out in the tenth chapter of bhagavad gIta. This chapter should be read and re read whenever there is a rise of jealousy.

 

One may come up with the question, ‘How do I even know I have these problems?’ The answer is simple. One can become alert and introspective enough to recognize and diagnose one’s own problems only by following a dhArmiK lifestyle. By doing so, he gets rid of mechanical thinking, dullness and rigidity. He sets a spiritual goal in life and negativities start diminishing as one does more vedAntik sadhana. In a nutshell, prayer, religious life, auto-suggestion, introspection, alertness, pratipaksha-bhavana, reading scriptures are ways to develop a strong healthy value system for oneself and society.

 

 


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Journey Of a Seeker...   9/6/2011 12:00:00 AM

The following is a beautiful verse which elucidates how man can achieve liberation while interacting with the world.

 

विद्या ददाति विनयं विनयाद्याति पात्रताम् ।
पात्रत्वाद्धनमाप्नोति धनाद्धर्मं ततः सुखम् ||

vidyA dadAti vinayam vinayAdyAti pAtratAm

pAtratvAddhanam Apnoti dhanAddharmam tataH sukham

 

Knowledge gives humility, from humility one attains a worthy character, from a worthy character one gains wealth, from wealth dharma, from that (from dharma) comes happiness.

 

1.  vidyA dadAti vinayam

Knowledge gives humility. Here knowledge does not necessarily mean spiritual knowledge. Any secular knowledge is fully ripened only when the knower has attained humility, be it science, mathematics, arts or economics. If knowledge does not give rise to humility then it gives rise to egoism. Once a person knows more about any subject, then the person comes to know his limitations in respect of space, time and knowledge.

 

 If I do a PhD in Physics; in Astrophysics to be specific; in cosmic rays to be more specific, then, what I am actually leaning is “more of a lesser” area. This means I might end up knowing a lot about cosmic rays and I might submit a thesis (which might be proved wrong by another PhD student, which will be argued upon by another and the chain goes on). So, while I think I know much about that particular subject of mine, I am actually quite alienated in my knowledge because I have distanced myself from the other major part of Astrophysics. Astrophysics itself is just a part of Physics which is just a branch of science, which, in the scheme of things is just one aspect of life, since there is geology, mathematics, arts, literature etc. So I know a little, of a little, of a little….this word can go on. This is why our scriptures say we are limited in knowledge while Ishvara (Lord) is omniscient and omnipotent.

 

A person who is truly learned in his particular field of study will understand this helplessness and limitedness; accept it gracefully and surrender to Ishvara willfully. This is humility. As opposed to this, if a person becomes egoistic then his knowledge is skin deep, which is used only for the purpose of carrying on life selfishly. Such people do not benefit from their study nor do they become beneficial for others. They are a burden to society and set a wrong example. Hence real knowledge is that which makes a person bloom with humility. Albert Einstein once said “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”

 

 

2. vinayAt yAti pAtratAm

 

This humility gives rise to nobility and many positive virtues. Hence a person develops a worthy character. He starts leading an alert life where each word, deed and thought is carefully measured. Someone has rightly said

 

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

 

 

Once a person recognizes that Ishvara is karmAdhyaksha (presides over karma) and karmaphaladAta(giver of the fruits of actions) then humbleness is a natural consequence. This humility and acceptance of role of Ishvara and one’s own role in the grand scheme of things makes the person virtuous. He develops great qualities like egolessness, non hurting attitude, fortitude, straight forwardness, patience, forgiveness, charity, purity, service, steadfastness, mind – mastery, equanimity etc. Such a person naturally attracts people and gains their admiration.

 

 

3 pAtratvAddhanam Apnoti

 

Such a person of noble character earns a good position in society. He is well equipped in his own field of study, which he applies in the world and earns money. This is true for any field of study.

 

4. dhanAt dharmam

 

Money earned by such a person will not turn him libertine. He will be careful enough not to lead a licentious life. On the contrary, he will use this wealth according to the dictums of the veda. This is indicated by the word dharma.

 

Dharma has many context- based meanings, but all those meanings, though apparently different boil down to one main definition of right conduct and activity according to the universal order.

 

Following are the different contexts in which the word is used.

 

A) vedoSkhilo dharmamUlam – “ The entire Veda is the source of dharma”. Simply put dharma is righteous conduct. The dharma of every human being is right activity which makes a person mature and on having gained this maturity he should seek knowledge.

B) dhAranAt dharma. dharma is derived from the root dhar(dhri) which means sustaining, maintaining. The phenomena because of which something sustains and maintains its nature is dharma. For eg heat in fire, coldness in ice is dharma of fire and ice. Everything is Ishvara because Ishvara is the material cause of the creation. Gold is the material cause of ornaments, hence gold pervades the whole ornament. The whole ornament is nothing but gold. Hence, Ishvara being the material cuase, everything verily is Ishvara. So, the laws of Ishvara and natural phenomena are not separate from Ishvara. Hence dharma is Ishvara. Being dharmik is simply not going against this order of Ishvara.

Hence the 'beingness" is dharma. It is not merely moral conduct and religious duties but it is the essential nature of things.

 

C) dharma means virtuous conduct and ethical values apart from religious duties. It is the conduct in which I expect others to interact with me; E.g. I would not want to be hurt or would not want to be lied to. So, these values are dharma for me. These values are universal values (sAmanya dharma). It is felt the same way by all unconditionally.

 

D) The universal values are common to all irrespective of age, sex position etc; e.g. non stealing, non hurting, truthfulness etc. There are certain dharmas which I have to follow in certain situations. This is called particular dharma (visheSha dharma); E.g. violence is not good but a soldier has to take it up to protect the frontiers of his land. Hence, visheSha dharma is different for different people based on age, position, family, clan, community, nation etc. Another example would be that an American citizen has a different duty towards USA which an Indian might not have to do in India and vice versa.

 

E) svadharma is the duty that one is enjoined to do based on his position and age in society; E.g. the svadharma of a king is to rule the land and give justice and protect his subjects. He cannot do the work of a washerman. In the vedik times, society was functionally classified based on duties. No duty was condidered superior or menial. Every duty and every member had an important place in society. This classification ensured a smooth and moral functioning of society. In this context, dharma can be translated as one’s essential duty.

 

F) dharma can mean one’s own essential nature. From the highest standpoint, one’s very own nature is truth and infinitude; hence this being our intrinsic nature, this is our dharma.

 

Whenever there is a decline of this dharma, the Lord incarnates. He incarnates and re-establishes the right way of conduct and activity e.g. incarnations of Lord rAma and kRRiShNa. There are other incarnations like that of Lord dakshiNAmUrti, who incarnated only to safeguard Atma dharma (Atmik knowledge).

 

In the present day context, dharma can be protected by protecting those who protect dharma and by protecting culture and traditions.

 

A knowledgeable man of noble character will follow his duty as enjoined by the veda, be virtuous in conduct, following the universal codes, will dedicate all his duties to the Lord being cognizant of the fact that his journey ends with knowledge of Atma only. Hence, he follows karma yoga by leading a dhArmik life style, divinizing all his actions, by dedicating them to the Lord and accepting the fruits of actions as gift from the Lord.

 

5. tataH sukham

 

Leading a lifestyle of karma yoga, he prepares his mind by cleaning it of all subtle impurities in the form of attractions and aversions etc. Such a mature, prepared mind is ready for spiritual knowledge. Consequently, the grace of guru, shAstra (scriptures) and Ishvara help one to attain spiritual knowledge. On attaining this Atmik knowledge he attains supreme happiness which is limitless and absolute. This is liberation.

Hence a learned man gains spiritual knowledge and ultimate happiness by leading a diligent, humble life, using the secular knowledge for earning wealth and giving it back to the community, living a life of karma yoga and virtues.


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